JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley spent most of Monday worrying and thinking about a lot of things. His job security, however, wasn’t among them.
The fact that he is now 12-38 as a head coach -- the second-worst winning percentage (.240) in NFL history among coaches with at least 50 games on their resume -- after Sunday’s embarrassing 38-14 loss to San Diego never entered his mind. He apparently didn’t spend time thinking about the Jaguars’ next two games before the bye week being a crossroads in his tenure.
Bradley said he was more concerned with the Jaguars’ turnovers, penalties, third-down offense and defense, blown coverages, poor run defense and a surprisingly bad performance by quarterback Blake Bortles than whether he will or won’t have a job a month from now.
"We’ve just got to get it right," Bradley said. "You’re not defined by one game. I think if this brings us to the right places … That’s my concern right now, is to make sure this game, this experience that we had, elevates our play and takes us to the right place. That’s purely all the conversation we’re having with our team right now."
The reality is, however, that what happens on Sunday against Baltimore (2-0) and on Oct. 2 against Indianapolis (0-2) in London likely will have a significant impact on Bradley’s job status. Expectations were higher for the Jaguars in 2016. Though there were some that picked them to win the AFC South or make the playoffs, finishing .500 was a more realistic goal. That’s certainly still within reach after an 0-2 start, but it would be significantly tougher after 0-4.
That’s likely if the Jaguars play as poorly as they did against the Chargers, who led 35-0 entering the fourth quarter. There was so much optimism from a very good offseason filled with defensive additions via free agency and the draft and after nearly beating Green Bay in Week 1, especially after multiple players talked last week about how they were shocked they didn’t beat the Packers and that there wasn’t the “here we go again” attitude that had been prevalent in the past several seasons.
That bottomed out publicly on Sunday, and the cries from fans for owner Shad Khan to fire Bradley are louder than they’ve ever been.
"We all take blame [for the Chargers loss]," Bradley said. "It’s not just the players. It’s not just the coaches. Overall, we all shoulder the responsibility. We all take blame for what took place yesterday, and once you do that you’ve got to apply those lessons that you learned and go. We talk about learn. ‘Hey, we’ve got to learn from this.’
"Well, learning means it gets corrected. We can talk all we want about learning, but if it shows up again the next week, that’s not learning."
The Jaguars cannot afford another clunker against the Ravens at EverBank Field and certainly not against a Colts team that’s been beset by injuries and has given up a league-high 73 points. Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell has said he believes Khan won't make a coaching change during the season but would instead wait and evaluate the entire season. But if the Jaguars head back from London 0-4 -- especially if they play poorly -- Khan could change his mind.
Caldwell has said he doesn’t hold Bradley responsible for the first two seasons because of the lack of talent on the roster, but it’s about the franchise making progress, and another 0-4 start would be a sign that the Jaguars haven’t made any. They have better players than they did in 2013 and 2014, but if they’re not winning more games, something has to change.
Beat the Ravens and Colts, however, and things are certainly much different. A .500 record and a chance to be competitive in the AFC South are back on the table. The heat on Bradley would ease -- for a while, anyway.